Forward planning driven by context-dependant conflict processing in anterior cingulate cortex

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung


Cognitive control and forward planning in particular is costly, and therefore must be regulated such that the amount of cognitive resources invested is adequate to the current situation. However, knowing in advance how beneficial forward planning will be in a given situation is hard. A way to know the exact value of planning would be to actually do it, which would ab initio defeat the purpose of regulating planning, i.e. the reduction of computational and time costs. One possible solution to this dilemma is that planning is regulated by learned associations between stimuli and the expected demand for planning. Such learning might be based on generalisation processes that cluster together stimulus states with similar control relevant properties into more general control contexts. In this way, the brain could infer the demand for planning, based on previous experience with situations that share some structural properties with the current situation. Here, we used a novel sequential task to test the hypothesis that people use control contexts to efficiently regulate their forward planning, using behavioural and functional magnetic resonance imaging data. Consistent with our hypothesis, reaction times increased with trial-by-trial conflict, where this increase was more pronounced in a context with a learned high demand for planning. Similarly, we found that fMRI activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) increased with conflict, and this increase was more pronounced in a context with generally high demand for planning. Taken together, the results indicate that the dACC integrates representations of planning demand at different levels of abstraction to regulate planning in an efficient and situation-appropriate way.


PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 1 Aug. 2022

Externe IDs

Scopus 85129473233
unpaywall 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2022.119222
dblp journals/neuroimage/OttLK22
WOS 000806247500005
Mendeley 2c1c94a4-6a3e-3215-a909-bb9cc0d6c6f2



  • Anterior cingulate cortex, Cognitive control, Forward planning, Generalization, Metacontrol, Sequential decision making